During a time of uncertainty and unpredictability, consumers are seeking answers to important questions on Google, with searches like “will grocery stores be open tomorrow” trending in California. While the government and other authorities are the source of truth for most of the critical questions, brands have a role to play as well in assuaging consumer concerns by anticipating questions and proactively providing answers through on-site information hubs.
Homecare brands Lysol and Clorox have been leaders in addressing common questions about Coronavirus and how to use their products to slow its spread. Both brands built out sophisticated site content focused on the virus back in January 2020, providing background information and addressing commonly searched questions about the virus including how to prevent its spread. In February 2020, monthly average unique visitors on site were fifteen times and four times more than in February 2019 for Lysol and Clorox, respectively, suggesting the demand for this information. In February 2020, the most popular page for both Lysol and Clorox was the COVID-19 information pages, followed by the pages for their disinfectant sprays.
Lysol and Clorox are driving this traffic with well-optimized search strategies. For Clorox, “how the coronavirus spreads” contributed the highest share of traffic to its site among nonbranded keywords in February 2020. In February 2019, however, there were no flu or cold-related keywords in the top 20 nonbranded organic keywords. Eight of the top ten nonbranded organic keywords for Lysol included some variation of ‘coronavirus’ in February 2020, while there was only one nonbranded flu or cold-related keyword driving organic traffic to the site in February 2019. Prior to Google’s ban on ads against Coronavirus keywords, Lysol also backed its search optimized site content with paid text ads: twelve of the top twenty nonbranded paid keywords included a variation of “coronavirus” in February 2020, versus only one cold or flu-related paid nonbranded keyword in February 2019.
In the financial services industry, panic-inducing market volatility has led Vanguard and Fidelity to take a more humanizing approach with their COVID-19 related site content and communications. The brands provide blog-like prose and interviews with experts to provide guidance and temper customer fears. Vanguard’s March 10th blog post followed a simple ‘what we know’ and ‘what we don’t know’ structure written by the Global Chief Economist and head of Vanguard Investment Strategy Group. The post received more than 100 comments, many of which thank Vanguard for its transparent information sharing. Fidelity’s content highlights an interview with three of its investment professionals to address common questions customers are asking (e.g., “are we headed toward a recession or is this just a short-term decline?”). In categories like financial services that are immediately impacted by the pandemic, it is critical that brands proactively address consumer concerns and answer pressing question—even if those answers are “I don’t know”—to build trust.
In petcare, a sector that thankfully is less affected by COVID-19 due to animal immunity, Petco offers comfort for pet owners by addressing Coronavirus related questions like “can pets contact coronavirus from humans, and vice versa”. The site also provides a list of additional resources including links to the CDC, WHO, and the Coronavirus Animal Shelter Kit. Even for brands not immediately affected by the virus, it is important to show your customers that you are aware of potential concerns and are thinking critically about the implications and proactively answering their questions.